Wednesday, May 14, 2003

A few more culture thoughts..

First, Barbara Nicolosi has some more thoughts on her blog, plus a better Flannery O'Connor quote.

Secondly, while I understand the concern of some about pop culture "normalizing" certain activities or habits, I really and quite honestly don't understand what the alternative would look like. Take homosexuality, if you must, since that seems to be the issue du jour in regard to 6FU.

Some viewers or commentors (whether they've seen the show or not) say that the presentation of a 3-dimensional gay character who doesn't live by the RC teachings on sexuality (which are maybe not an issue because the character isn't RC....) and is, worse, okay with it and is trying to make his way through life in that context is, in effect, "normalizing" this "lifestyle" and...

...What? That's where I lose you. And what? What then? Shouldn't be allowed? Shouldn't happen? I don't understand what you want. Because, you see, I could see your point if the portrayal of David's life was unrealistic or glamorized or sanitized in some way. It's not. It's as mixed and ambiguous as every other character's on the show.

And, as another commentor pointed out, this is a program about specific characters. The specific character of David has specific experiences, and acts out of that. And, like it or not, it's not an uncommon experience. Some may like to think that the only homosexual is a deeply tormented suffering homosexual, but...sorry. There are, walking in this land, homosexuals like David who are not particularly interested in living according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and are okay with that. Am I saying that is the ideal? No I'm not. But remember, we're talking about art here, art that has a fundamental responsibility to represent reality. And the reality is that people like David exist, so why not tell stories about them?

The problem, as I mentioned yesterday, may not be what is shown and the stories that are told, but the stories that aren't. There are many people with homosexual inclinations or same-sex attraction who are not happy with those feelings or who have understood their same-sex attraction to be a part of them, but also something that stands in the way of the fullness of a relationship with Christ. Writer David Morrison is one of these folks and has helped countless like-minded people through his writings and speaking.

But of course, his kind of story doesn't get told. We can say the same about any number of types of people: members of minorities who don't fit the PC mode, Christians who are sane and not fanatical, pro-lifers who are compassionate, wholistic and sane.....

Sure, there are silly, unrealistic portrayals of homosexuality in the media, portrayals that gloss over uncomfortable truths. And there are many other kinds of stories that need to be told in order to present a full sense of reality and human experience. But the portrayal of David Fisher in 6FU is not one of them. David, as I've said, is a flawed, struggling human being, who may not meet the ideals of some of us or be going in the direction you think he should be There are human beings like that. Many of them. How can one object to portraying a character that's fairly realistic in that sense in a work of art? I don't understand, especially when you consider what the alternative might be.

But then, the commentors indicate, they have a problem with the very fact that David is presented as just as normally flawed and struggling as the rest of the characters. They want the portrayal of David's life in the show to be somehow different from that of the straight characters, for his problems to be worse or clearly and exclusively rooted in his homosexuality or something. They want it clear that homosexuality is a different kind of sin from, say...theirs.

News Flash:

It's not.

It may make us feel self-satisfied and secure to declare that other people's sins or failures to meet the ideals of the Gospel are worse or more worthy of condemnation than ours...but...they're not.

Further...those of you who disagree, please do so, but what I'm particularly interested in is your alternative vision. How are you going to enforce your rules for what an artist or creator can or can't create or the stories that can or can't be told? What are the guidelines going to be? What's your form letter to the artist or creator who wants to tell as story that violates your principles going to say? It's one thing - and a very, very easy thing, by the way - to say what we think shouldn't be on the screen..but given the complexity of life and the endless diversity of the creative spirit and experience, I would be very interest to see a positive vision and plan that embodies these objections into some sort of practical, realistic vision of the cultural landscape you propose....